A young Gazan studying in Algeria, arrived at Rambam Health Care Campus via Jordan to donate a kidney to his desperately ill brother.
The life of “K”, a 13-year-old boy from the Gaza Strip was saved, thanks to the kidney donation from his older brother, a university student living in Algeria, who arrived in Israel by way of Jordan. With a fully functioning kidney, K is now be able to begin his life anew, thanks to the physicians and staff at Rambam, and his family, who came together within the walls of Rambam's Pediatric Nephrology Institute.
K was born with a congenital defect, an obstructed kidney. His young life had been consumed by frequent visits from Gaza to Ichilov and Tel Hashomer hospitals in the center of the country. During the course of his childhood, he underwent a number of medical procedures, including surgery to remove one kidney. Despite these efforts, his condition continued to deteriorate and he arrived at Rambam in May 2017, his remaining kidney functioning at less than twenty percent.
K's mother, also from the Gaza Strip and with six additional children, faced a dilemma: to have K begin kidney dialysis treatments alone, or to also undertake the challenging process of securing a kidney donation from a close family member. His mother did not hesitate and began the search for a compatible kidney. When her kidney was determined to be unsuitable, she arranged to bring her oldest son from Gaza to Rambam to be evaluated for a match. Through the Office of District Coordination and Liaison at the Erez Crossing, the brother was brought to Israel, but after testing, it was learned that his kidney was also an unsuitable match.
A complicated campaign was undertaken to bring K's brother “J”, a university student living in Algeria, to Israel. Since Algeria has no diplomatic relations with Israel, Yazid Falah, Rambam's health coordinator for patients from the Palestinian Authority, submitted an official letter to the academic institution where J was studying, explaining the need for his presence in Israel and stressing J’s commitment to continue his university studies. Since J’s family resides in Gaza, his entrance to Israel had to be arranged through Jordan. With J's arrival in mid-August, the entire family was reunited after a long separation, at the Pediatric Nephrology Institute in the Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital at Rambam.
Good news concerning a kidney match arrived quickly and the staff began preparing K and his brother for the kidney transplantation. In the beginning of November, following K's completion of multiple dialysis treatments, the two brothers underwent successful surgeries performed by Professor Aharon Hoffman, Director Department of Vascular Surgery & Transplantation; Professor Ahmed Assalia, Deputy Director of the Department of General Surgery; and Dr. Ran Steinberg, Director of the Department of Pediatric Surgery. In charge of N and J’s pre-surgical and post-operative care were Dr. Israel Eisenstein, Director of Pediatric Kidney Transplant Services, Dr. Shirley Polk, Senior Physician in the Pediatric Nephrology Institute, and the staff of the Pediatric Emergency Care Unit and the Pediatric Nephrology Institute.
"K came through the operation with great success and no complications" said Dr. Eisenstein. "He is showing excellent signs of recovery and we are talking about a tremendous success story."
K and his family cannot return to Gaza at present, since K requires follow-up evaluations twice a week, so they remain in Israel for now. K should soon be a healthy child and he return to Gaza with his mother in due course. J will also have undergone a full recovery and be able to return to his studies in Algeria.
Rambam's Pediatric Nephrology Institute first began performing kidney transplantations in 2014; to date they have performed 32 such surgeries, one-third of which were for children from the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. In 2017, eleven pediatric kidney transplant surgeries were performed, a record for Northern Israel's largest hospital.